Ecological and molecular maintenance strategies of mobile genetic elements

SL Turner, MJ Bailey, AK Lilley, Christopher Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

23 Citations (Scopus)


This review considers the influence of selection pressure, fitness and population. structures on the evolution of mobile genetic elements (including plasmids, phage, pathogenicity islands, transposons and insertion sequences) that constitute the horizontal gene pool of bacteria. These are considered at different scales using examples from in vitro evolutionary studies of Escherichia coli and associated bacteriophage, detailed molecular analyses of the broad host-range IncP-1 plasmids, population surveys of pseudomonad plasmids and genomic comparisons of members of the Rhizobiaceae. All biological systems show genetic redundancy (the existence of allelic variation) at some population level, i.e. within a cell, a clone, population or community. We consider the level(s) at which redundancy is expressed and how this will affect and has influenced the evolution of mobile genetic elements. (C) 2002 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2002


  • plasmid
  • horizontal gene pool
  • ecology
  • evolution


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